A former Anglican priest has been convicted of sexually abusing four boys from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation several decades ago.
David Norton, 72, was found guilty Tuesday morning of three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.
The four complainants, now middle-aged men, met Norton during his time as the priest at St. Andrew’s church at Chippewas on the Thames First Nation in the 1970s and 1980s. The boys came from troubled backgrounds and grew to view Norton as a father figure who would give them attention and affection.
Norton admitted that he invited the boys over to his apartment frequently to “treat them” to things like day trips, movies and food that their families couldn’t afford.
The former priest claimed in his testimony that the boys would always wear their street clothes to bed and he had no physical contact with them beyond hugs.
The victims, however, testified that Norton would offer them pajamas to sleep in and he would often end up sleeping in the same bed as them, despite any objections they had.
They said that Norton would also kiss them on the lips for 10 to 15 seconds and initiate other forms of physical contact, including rubbing their thighs.
The complainants testified that they would often wake up groggy and covered in a substance they only later realized was semen.
The victims testified that they would have some recollection of Norton touching them inappropriately in the night, such as rubbing his penis against them, but would be unable to respond and fall back asleep.
Norton was acquitted on one count of indecent assault against the first victim in the case because he testified that he initially thought he was dreaming. Later, after undergoing therapy, the victim testified that he realized it was real.
Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton felt an acquittal on that count was necessary, but believed the victim’s testimony in relation to the count of sexual assault. The victim testified that he woke up to find Norton using his hand to stroke his penis, and refused to stop after the victim began crying.
In rendering her decision, Justice Templeton said she did not believe Norton’s evidence because she felt it did not ring true. She questioned why Norton would force the boys to wear their street clothes or share a bedroom with him if he was in fact “treating them” to comforts and luxuries they couldn’t otherwise afford.
The complainant, whom Norton was found guilty of sexually assaulting, spoke to reporters after the verdict was rendered about his sense of closure.
“I felt closure the first time I faced him when I first had to speak up, when you first have to prove your case so it can move forward, there was a small amount of closure in that,” he said. “Seeing him every time after that, there was a bit of closure in that.”
He also described how difficult it was to come forward.
“Getting to this day caused a breakup of our community because it involved our religion, someone we loved, someone the whole community loved, and seeing religiously as a leader, someone we could follow and trust,” he said.
Defence lawyer Lakin Afolabi isn’t sure if Norton is considering an appeal of the verdict, and would not comment on his client’s reaction to the guilty verdicts.
Norton is currently serving prison time for sexually assaulting an underage London boy in the 1990s.
Sentencing submissions in Tuesday’s verdict will be held Jan. 18, 2019, with a decision to be announced Jan. 25, 2019.